I want to talk to you about one of the most important weapons in a lifter’s arsenal in the war against atrophy.
You might be surprised that it’s not the most anabolic apparel on the internet, nor is it a specific exercise or dubious bottled substance…
It’s a humble workout journal.
Why should I log my training?
By definition, training is about progression. This is what distinguishes it from exercise.
The latter is about performing movement patterns without having a specific goal and plan on how to get there.
Training, on the other hand, is the process of performing movement patterns according to a plan with the intent on achieving a specific goal.
Most people who go to the gym don’t train—they exercise.
Training implies systematic improvement and you need a way to keep track of it. Otherwise, how do you know if you’re actually progressing?
If it’s not measurable, it’s not manageable. You need a training log.
Maintaining a training log or workout journal gives you a constant reference point to help you make decisions about your programming.
A training log provides you with a consistently up to date view of your strength and training capacity, providing you an accurate picture of where you’re at and how you got there.
Having a record of your previous training sessions can really help you understand how far you’ve come.
Going through a workout log and reading through your past training sessions gives you a vivid sense of progress.
You’re reading yourself get better over time. That can really boost your motivation when you need it and help keep you on track.
Where should I log my workouts?
For starters, I recommend you avoid using an app on your smartphone and instead get yourself a neat little notebook.
I find it much more satisfying and immediate to scribble in a journal with a pen than poke around on a glass screen.
Personally, I use a pocket-sized hardback notebook (specifically, this one) because it’s durable, compact enough to fit in the side pocket of my gym bag, and has enough pages for an entire year’s worth of training.
Mine also has a pen loop so I don’t have to rummage through my bag for a pen or worry about it being crushed by my gym gear and leaking ink all over my Inner War t-shirt.
Use whatever works for you.
A note on notation
Keeping a training log should be simple, easy and quick. After every training session, note down:
- Exercises, sets and reps: The exercises you trained that day followed by sets × reps × weight. It’s good practice to record your warm-ups as well as your working sets.
- Failed reps: Any reps you failed during the session, I note them simply with an “(F)” next to the set. Hopefully these should be few and far between.
- Personal records: I annotate these with “PR” next to the set, that way I can quickly identify past PRs by just flicking back through my training log.
- Notes: Maybe you’re rehabilitating an injury, working on your technique, maybe you did a few bonus bicep curls at the end of your training… Write it down here.
Some tips on getting the most out of your training log:
- Keep it short and sweet: Note as much down as possible with as few words as possible.
- Dedicate a page for each training day with the date clearly noted at the top, that way it’ll be easier for you to scan through to find a previous log entry in the future.
- Be consistent: Make it a habit of logging your training at the end of every session to avoid having to scratch your head to remember what you did last Tuesday.
That’s all there is to it.
A workout log can be a valuable source of information to keep track of your training, help you make programming decisions and give you a clear sense of progress.
Do you have any other helpful ideas on maintaining a training log? Get in touch with us and let us know.
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